Showing posts from October, 2014

Birmingham Museum of Art/Oscar's Cafe to Host November 7 Open Mic Bards & Brews

Oscar's Cafe at the Birmingham Museum of Art will host an open mic poetry event on Friday, November 7, 6:30-9:00 p.m. Craft beer will be available for sampling courtesy of Blue Pants Brewery and Good People Brewing Company; light refreshments will be served. Music by The Reflections. Attendees must be 18 years or older to be admitted, and 21 years or older to be served. IDs will be checked.

Special thanks to the Board of the Junior Patrons of the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Bards & Brews is usually held on the first Friday of the month at various locations around town. There will not be a Bards & Brews in December, but on January 9 there will be a poetry slam at Central Library. Check out the Bards & Brews page on Facebook for more information.

This program is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Join the Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals for Happy Hour at the Library

The BPLYP will host a mixer at Central Library onTuesday, November 18, 6:00-7:30 p.m. Attendees must RSVP at 591-4944 or

In addition to showing your support for the BPLYP by attending Happy Hour at the Library, you may also support them by purchasing a Belk Charity Sale ticket. These tickets are available in the administration office at Central Library during regular business hours. Tickets are $5 and the sale is Saturday, November 8. Please be sure to buy your Belk charity ticket today.

Public Libraries in Jefferson County Provide New Resource for Preparing for the Alabama Driver's License Test

The Public Libraries In Jefferson County are providing a new free resource—the Alabama Driver’s Permit Practice Test. The test contains 40 multiple choice questions based on the official Alabama Driver’s Handbook. The test will assist those preparing for the Alabama driver’s license test with knowledge rules of the road and road signs in Alabama.

Every permit practice test presented on the website contains a series of multiple-choice questions. After the learner answers the questions, they immediately see whether the answer was correct or not. This resource does not issue any certificates of any type nor is it a substitute for the actual Alabama driver’s license test. After passing the permit practice tests it is recommended that the test taker check with their local Alabama Drivers Motor Vehicle office to book their exam time and date.

This resource should be especially helpful for young people preparing for the Alabama driver’s license test. However, a person of any age can take…

Resume Writing and How to Dress for Interviews Among Topics to Be Discussed in Job Searching Seminar at Inglenook Library, November 6

Do you want to brush up on your job searching skills, have your resume reviewed for free, and shop for interview clothes in the same place? Well, on November 6 at 9:30 a.m., the Inglenook Library will be hosting a job seminar which will be conducted by representatives of the Department of Human Resources (DHR) JOBS Program. They’ll present job searching skills and techniques ranging from resume writing to interviewing skills. At the end of the program, the representatives will also review resumes and provide tips and/or corrections that will maximize your resume viewing potential. My Sister's Closet, a partner of the YWCA, will also accompany representatives of the DHR JOBS Program to showcase appropriate interview clothing and to sell them at a minimum cost.

Additionally, the Inglenook Library has a plethora of books for you to further your research in leading an effective and productive job search. Check them out below.

The Overnight Résumé: The Fastest Way to Your Next Job 


Find Family History @ Your Library

Recently while visiting with relatives in northern New Mexico, I learned that my grandfather immigrated to the United States from Mexico sometime in the 1920s. No one is sure why he decided to come to the United States so I decided to do some detective work using the resources available at BPL. I don’t remember a lot about my grandfather except I remember him telling me about the day General Pancho Villa and his army arrived in his village.

Who was Pancho Villa and why did he need an army? Using the online catalog I checked out these books: Villa and Zapata: A History of the Mexican Revolution by Frank Mclynn; The General and the Jaguar : Pershing's Hunt for Pancho Villa by Eileen Welsome; and Pancho Villa and Black Jack Pershing : the Punitive Expedition in Mexico by James W. Hurst. They provided some understanding of what was going on when he was growing up Mexico and about the colorful character, Pancho Villa.

To learn more about the Mexican Revolution and Cristero…

Book Review: The 40s: The Story of a Decade / The New Yorker

The 40s: The Story of a Decade / The New Yorker
Edited by Henry Finder with Giles Harvey

Many readers of The New Yorker will be pleasantly surprised to learn that the voice of the magazine, its style and its reporting, are nearly the same as when the magazine was writing the story of the World War II decade. Reading these New Yorker articles, contemporary accounts of world history and the life of the mind of that era, is to consistently remind oneself that the writers didn’t know how anything was going to turn out. We do not have to imagine the shock of Paris at the disintegration of their nation’s defenses in 1940. We can feel it through the writing of the New Yorker journalist, A. J Leibling, in Paris as France fell to the Nazis.

Which of the New Yorker essays we read today will be seen as essential to the history of our day?

Today we enjoy The New Yorker’s essay-form character studies and can enjoy the collection of studies from the 1940s. We meet Le Corbusier, the architectural g…

The Benefits of Senior Activities at the Library

The library is one of few places that our seniors can go to enjoy educational and fun-filled activities. Research shows both the acts of creative expression and social interaction are vital to the mental and physical well-being of senior citizens. Being able to express oneself can actually improve health, both mentally and physically.

Creative activities planned for our senior bring many rewarding benefits:

Reinforce essential connections between brain cells, including those connected to memory. Creativity strengthens morale. It alters the way we respond to problems and helps to keep a fresh perspective which makes us emotionally resilient.Creative activities challenge the brain and can relieve sleep and mood disorders.Reading, writing, and word games increase one’s working vocabulary and help to fend off forgetfulness.Creativity promotes a positive outlook and sense of well-being which boosts the immune system and fights disease.Having an active, creative life makes it easier to …

Southern History Department's Book of the Month: Mme. Bégué’s Recipes of Old New Orleans Cookery

Mme. Bégué’s Recipes of Old New Orleans Cookery
Madame Elizabeth Kettenring Bégué

If you’re a fan of brunch or “second breakfast,” have a look through this cookbook and learn the history and recipes of one of the most famous restaurants ever to serve that meal. For many years in the nineteenth century, Bégués was an institution of New Orleans cookery and was famed for serving up “a Gargantuan feast that began at 11:00 o’clock in the morning and never ended until about 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon.” It would take a lot of walking through the Quarter to burn that off, assuming you could rise from the table afterwards.

The restaurant began as a coffee house under proprietor Louis Dutrey and at that time his wife, Elizabeth Kettenring, looked after the kitchen and was already turning out the kind of food that brought the customers in droves after they had finished their morning duties. When Dutrey died, Elizabeth married a butcher named Hypolite Bégué and by 1880 the restaurant, now name…

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Recent news stories involving domestic violence have drawn renewed attention to this important issue. Although these current stories have involved sports figures, domestic violence is a crime that may be experienced by anyone.

Major legislation addressing domestic violence is contained in the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, introduced by then-Senator Joe Biden. It appears as Title IV in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (September 13, 1994). The Act includes sections on federal penalties for sex crimes, such as mandatory restitution, and a grant for a national domestic violence hotline. The law also adds sections on interstate domestic violence and grants for rural domestic violence and child abuse enforcement and for community programs on domestic violence.

The law was reauthorized in 2013 as the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (March 7, 2013).

Several websites, publications, and contact numbers contain very helpful information:


What I Learned from Nancy Drew

I have dyslexia and was lucky enough to be in a school system that checked for this in 1966 when I was in third grade. I took some special classes and by fourth grade I was an avid reader. I started reading Helen Fuller Orton’s mysteries and when I had read all of those in the school’s library, I graduated to Nancy Drew. When I had finished all of the Nancy Drews in the school’s library, I started buying them at Kmart for $1.59 each. I earned money babysitting for children in the neighborhood at fifty cents an hour.

I collected the entire 64-book set of the Nancy Drew books in hardback and about the first five in paperback. Through the years, something will come up in conversation or reading and I’ll think, ”I learned that in a Nancy Drew book.” For example:  In The Secret of the Golden Pavilion, we learn that the silversword plant only grows in one place—the Haleakala Crater on the Hawaiian island of Maui—and on the island of Hawaii, there is a fern forest with ferns the size o…

Watercolor Society of Alabama Annual Members' Showcase Will Be on Display Through October 31

Nearly 60 aqua media works from across the state will be on display September 21–October 31 during the 2014 Watercolor Society of Alabama Annual Members' Showcase at the Central Library. The free exhibit will be in the library’s Fourth Floor Gallery.

E. Gordon West of San Antonio, Texas, is the selection juror. West has received numerous awards in national exhibitions and has works in the permanent collections of the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas A&M University, and the University of Louisville. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville and studied at the Chicago Art Institute.

Steve Rogers of Ormond Beach, Florida is the awards juror. His artwork has won international awards. He was the Purchase Award Winner of the 2006 National Watercolor Society “Best of Show.” His paintings have won four awards in the American Watercolor Society Annual International Exhibitions. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Monmouth College in Monmouth, Ill.

For informa…

Final Session in Bank on Birmingham Financial Series to Be Held at Community Education South, October 28

A sound understanding of banks and banking plays an important part in assuring one’s personal financial health. Acquiring such an understanding, however, takes some time and effort. In the world of banking, there exist different kinds of institutions offering a variety of accounts, products, and investment opportunities. But it is not a matter of one size fits all; which banking services are suitable for you depends upon your particular circumstances, needs, and goals. Therefore, in order to make good decisions about banks, you should try to get good, solid information about what is available so that you can compare their offerings with your priorities.

Bank on Birmingham (BoB) is a local non-profit organization that was created to provide information to the public about banking products and services. The membership of Bank on Birmingham, which consists of both local financial institutions and community organizations, is particularly interested in reaching low and moderate income …

Food Drive at Five Points West Library Helps Central Park Baptist Church Food Bank

The Food for Fines Drive here at the Five Points West Library (FPW) was a major success! Patrons from all across the city and county donated canned foods and non-perishable items during the month of September. A maximum of $10.00 in fines could be waived for 10 non-perishable food items donated.

FPW Circulation Department staff—Andrei, Darrell, Nese, and Tammie—boxed up the items to donate to the Central Park Baptist Church Food Bank, 1900 43rd Street, Ensley. The Central Park Baptist Church has been a part of this neighborhood for over 50 years and we have been donating our canned goods to Central Park Baptist Church food bank for at least 10 years. Ms. Tracy, one of our faithful patrons, is the secretary and contact person for the food bank.

What a wonderful pleasure to know that the can goods that we collected here at the Five Points West Library are going to a worthy cause to help local families in need.

Andrei Jones
Five Points West Library

Dalai Lama Events at Birmingham Public Library Scheduled for October 14-23

To help the public learn more about the Dalai Lama prior to his Birmingham visit in late October, the Birmingham Public Library will offer several free programs and resources.

The following locations will feature free screenings of the documentary 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama:

Wednesday, October 15, 12:00  p.m., Central Library
Tuesday, October 21, 12:00 p.m., Avondale Library
Tuesday, October 21, 6:30 p.m., Springville Road Library
Wednesday, October 22, 6:30 p.m., East Lake Library
Thursday, October 23, 10:00 a.m., Smithfield Library
Thursday, October 23, 11:00 a.m., Titusville Library

A resource list about books and DVDs on His Holiness will be available at Birmingham library locations in October.

Part of Human Rights Week will include the city's A Celebration of the Human Spirit Film Festival, a two-day film festival with movies that celebrate the human spirit, the quest for freedom, and the power of individuals to change the world. Walden Media will host free screenings o…

BPL Staff Supports Community As Part of Training Day

Last week the staff of the Birmingham Public Library gathered together for the annual day of training. Every year on this day, the staff supports the community by collecting Christmas toys for Mayor's Office-Division of Youth Services and canned food for the local food banks.

This year a new opportunity to support the Birmingham community was initiated by the library's United Way coordinator, Stephanie George. Stephanie, who has a passion for crafting and recycling, asked staff to help her with her United Way fundraiser by donating old T-shirts. She took the used T-shirts and up-cycled them by creating beautiful scarves and bags. The scarves and bags were sold for five dollars each during the day and $475 was raised. The fund raiser not only made use of recycled materials, but was also a fun and creative way to support a most worthy cause. The BPL staff look forward to seeing what new fundraising project Stephanie creates next year.

The City of Birmingham and the Birmingham Public Library to Show Free Film Screenings Prior to the Dalai Lama's October 26 Visit

The Dalai Lama will be in Birmingham this week as part of Human Rights Week. Prior to his public appearance on Sunday, October 26, at Regions Field, the City of Birmingham and the Birmingham Public Library have planned several free film screenings that celebrate the human spirit, the quest for freedom, and the power of individuals to change the world.

Several library locations will show the documentary Ten Questions for the Dalai Lama, October 21-23:

Wednesday, October 22, 6:30 p.m., East Lake Library
Thursday, October 23, 10:00 a.m., Smithfield Library
Thursday, October 23, 11:00 a.m., Titusville Library

Walden Media will host free screenings of different films on Friday, October 24, at the Birmingham Museum of Art and on Saturday, October 25, at the Alabama Theatre.

The four Walden Media films are free, but attendees must register in advance, via Eventbrite. Here's the schedule:

Friday, October 24, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, Birmingham Museum of Art, 7:00  p.m.

The Magic City Classic Comes to Birmingham, October 25

The Magic City Classic is an annual American football "classic" between  Alabama A&M University and Alabama State University, two of Alabama's most prominent historically black universities. The game is payed at Legion Field in Birmingham, and some of the festivities held in conjunction with the game include a parade and the "Battle of the Bands" between the two schools' marching bands.

In the early seventies, I had a memorable experience—one of excitement, curiosity and fascination. I was curious as to why my mother dressed me in my finest to sit outside in the frigid temperature, and excited to attend one of the most renowned HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) football games. It was formerly known as the "Classic,” but later the name was changed to the "Magic City Classic.” I was also excited by the number of people gathered at the Classic, or as some labeled it,  “The Fashion Show,” where they dressed in their finest con…

November is National Novel Writing Month!

If you've ever thought about writing a novel, it's time to blow the dust off your keyboard and get busy!

National Novel Writing Month challenges people of all ages to write 50,000 words of a novel in the 30 days of November. This year, NaNoWriMo expects 400,000 participants from 616 affiliated chapters across six continents. “Every year, we're reminded that there are still stories that have yet to be told, still voices yet to be heard from all corners of the world,” says Executive Director Grant Faulkner. “NaNoWriMo helps people make creativity a priority in life and realize the vital ways our stories connect us. We are our stories.”

To participate is easy: simply sign up at Writing begins on November 1 and ends at midnight on November 30. Anyone who crosses the 50,000-word finish line is declared a Winner. In the meantime, NaNoWriMo lets burgeoning writers connect with a worldwide community of like-minded novelists through discussion forums, online cha…

A Librarian's Guide to Interviewing


Renasant Offers Entrepreneurial Success Series

Renasant Bank is reaching out to help small businesses succeed with a free six-part entrepreneurial success series. Series topics include Financial Management, Networking and Relationship Building, Social Media, Tax Information, Business Plan Components, Human Resources and Access to Capital.

Renasant staff and local experts are leading these valuable learning sessions throughout the Birmingham and Shelby County communities. The event is co-sponsored by the Birmingham Public Library System and Trudy Phillips Consulting. Complementary refreshments will be served.

Tracey Morant Adams, Senior Vice President Small Business and Community Development Director said of the series, ‘This free series is part of Renasant Bank’s continuing commitment to further the success of small business owners and entrepreneurs in our area. We are pleased to provide valuable tools and insight to help our local community businesses thrive and flourish.”

To register for any of the sessions, please visit: http:/…

Children's Book Reivew: Coraline

Neil Gaiman

This time of year kids and parents are always looking for a spooky story. One of my all-time favorites is Neil Gaiman’s novella, Coraline. I think it’s the perfect Halloween read for (almost) all ages.

Coraline is a little girl who is bored and lonely. Her parents’ eyes are always glued to their computers. They have just moved into a new building in a different neighborhood, an old mansion divided into flats. Without a sibling or a friend to play with Coraline explores the creaky old building and finds companionship with the wacky neighbors. Coraline becomes acquainted with Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, two old ladies retired from show business, and Mr. Bobo, who is allegedly in the process of training a mouse circus. One rainy day when she is confined to the house, Coraline finds a peculiar door in her living room. Her curiosity is piqued when she opens the door to find the entrance bricked up. The neighbors all warn her to stay away from the mysterious door, but…

Popular Birmingham Noir Walking Tours Scheduled for October 26 and 30

Birmingham Noir: A Nighttime Walking Tour of Notorious Downtown Historic Sites

Fallen Women

October 26 and 30, 2014

Put on your walking shoes and join Birmingham Public Library Archivist Jim Baggett for a visit to some of Birmingham’s most infamous historic places. Learn about the Magic City’s most famous brothel, spectacular 19th century murders, political intrigues, and the scandal that nearly destroyed Bull Connor’s career.

Admission is free, but reservations are required and spaces are limited. These tours always fill early.

The tours begin at 5:45 p.m. in the atrium of the Central Library and last approximately 90 minutes. The tours end back at the library so visitors are welcome to park in the library’s lot.

To make a reservation contact Jim Baggett at

Back to Basics: Beginner Computer Classes offered for November

How do you turn this on? Why is this called a mouse? Why is it called "Windows," and where are the curtains? 

It seems that practically everything we do uses a computer. For many who have never dealt with a computer, these every-day operations can be daunting. Just the terminology alone can send someone screaming back to the pre-Y2K hills!

The Regional Library Computer Center offers basics courses to introduce people to computers. The courses and trainers help technology newbies become less intimidated with working on a PC. All it requires in taking the first step and then one-step at a time. It takes time and practice.

For those who have had a class or more under their belt, here are some web sites for practice. The more you become familiar with the basics, the sooner you can take the next step.

Mouse Exercises Tutorials: The Palm Beach County Library offers tutorials to help beginners learn to use the mouse. The “Mousing Around” tutorial is a …

Legal Services Alabama to Offer Will Preparation Services at East Lake Library, October 23

Legal Services Alabama, a nonprofit law firm in Birmingham, will offer will preparation services at the East Lake Library. They were on hand at Central and North Birmingham Libraries in August and September to offer assistance.

To qualify for a free will, a person must be a Birmingham resident and must fall into one of the required income areas: under $34,200 for a single person; $39,050 or less for a family of two; $43,950 or less for a family of three; or $48,800 or less for a family of four. For those unable to meet the income requirements but are over 60 years old, the law firm may still be able to help.

East Lake Library
Thursday, October 23, 2014
9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

"Basically, we think everybody should have a will. If you have parents or kids, you should have a will,'' said Dru Clark, an attorney with Legal Services Alabama. Those also in need of a will should be anyone: owning a home, with a bank account, with elderly parents, with dependents with special …

Pratt City Community to Celebrate Red Ribbon Day, October 18

Pratt City Library staff members Lenairria Creer, Fannie Jolly, Alexandria Mitchell, and Deborah Blackmon will serve on a panel of judges to decide the winners of the Red Ribbon Day poster contest. Students from South Hampton Elementary and Jackson Olin High School designed posters using the theme "Love Yourself. Be Drug Free."

Red Ribbon Day is an annual event observed in the Pratt City community and across the country that focuses on drug, alcohol, and violence prevention. The National Family Partnership organized the first Nationwide Red Ribbon Campaign to recognize two DEA agents murdered in Guadalajara, Mexico. Since its beginning in 1985, the Red Ribbon has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. Angene Coleman, representative from Olivia's House, and residents will be on hand to help promote the program and enjoy the festivities.

Red Ribbon Day will be held Saturday, October 18, 2014,in the heart of Pratt City on Carline Avenue. Come sign the Re…

Ebola: Facts Not Fear

The New Yorker’s  The Borowitz Report headline from October 7, 2014, trumpets the alarming news: “Man Infected with Ebola Misinformation Through Casual Contact with Cable News!” Funny yes, but with a serious dig at the news media’s repeated attempts to make the disease even more alarming to the U.S. public than it naturally should be. This situation of course points to a basic truth long recognized by 21st century librarians: we are all awash in information, not all of it is reliable, and critical evaluation skills are vital in separating the wheat from the chaff.

What about those “critical evaluation skills?” In “crisis” news situations like Ebola especially, they involve staying calm and taking a minute to ask yourself some basic questions about the source of information:
Who/what organization is it that’s producing the information? Are they a known and generally reliable source? What expertise in the subject can they claim or reference to back up statements in their news items?Is th…